Not Just for Skinny People: Bringing Yoga to People with Round Bodies
When Anna Guest-Jelly first took up yoga 15 years ago, it became a game changer. After having gone on 65 different diets, she had finally come to something that actually made her feel better: yoga.
“One day I tallied up all the diets I had been on,” she notes on her website CurvyYoga.com. “I thought it was going to be around 20-25, so I was astounded that it was actually 65. I realized that a 66th diet wasn’t going to be the answer. I had also started practicing yoga, and found that it gave me some new ways to connect with my body.”
Guest-Jelly quickly discovered that in every yoga class she went to she was typically the biggest person in class, and most of the yoga teachers she worked with didn’t know how to adapt the postures to her larger frame. She often found herself squeezed into uncomfortable positions that weren’t suitable to her body.
Rather than simply giving up, however, she decided to take up the challenge.
“I can’t be the only person who wants to practice yoga in a bigger body,” she remembers thinking. “I realized that the problem wasn’t so much my body, but rather that my teachers didn’t know how to teach me.”
Guest-Jelly went to yoga teacher training, and soon developed her own yoga teaching style. The result is Curvy Yoga (curvyyoga.com), which now has more than 158 certified yoga teachers worldwide, and is being taught in the majority of the states in the U.S.
What makes Curvy Yoga unique, Guest-Jelly says in a recent article in The Washington Post, is the notion that no matter what your body size, there is always a way you can do a pose. Curvy yoga not only gives pose options for bigger bodies, classes are also sequenced from most supported to less and less supported versions of a pose, so that everyone can find a way to do the pose that works for their body.
In the article, Guest-Jelly offers up tips for making yoga suitable not just for skinny people, but bodies of all shapes and sizes. A highlight? How to avoid what she refers to as “death by boob smoosh,” a common problem in inversions for large-breasted women, where according to Guest-Jelly, “you feel like you’re being strangled or suffocated by your own breasts, which is not a fun experience.”
To solve the problem, she recommends, take a yoga strap, bind the strap at the top of the breast and that keeps them from coming back when you are upside-down.
“Yoga can be a tool to help you accept what’s going on in your body and accepting that and sending it love. Guest-Jelly notes. “As the creator of Curvy Yoga — and a lifelong advocate for women’s health, happiness & confidence — I’m living proof that when you grab life by the curves, life loves you back.